Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Snapshots of Le Center April 5, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Parked along an alley in downtown Le Center, Minnesota.

 

WHEN THE WEATHER WARMS (it will happen soon in Minnesota, right?), I’ll have my camera out more. Documenting. Photographing. Showing you the places I visit, the discoveries made.

 

The original section of the Le Sueur County Courthouse was built in 1897 of brick and Kasota stone at a cost of $55,000. It was designed by Chicago architect Louis M. Curry of Mayo & Curry in the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style. Additions have been made to the building and remodeling done.

 

Those include small towns like Le Center. It’s the county seat of Le Sueur County and about a 45-minute drive northwest of Faribault. It’s one of those communities you’d likely not drive to unless you had business or family there or were passing by en route to somewhere like St. Peter.

 

I love this row of well-kept old buildings in the heart of Le Center.

 

On a recent Saturday afternoon of road tripping, Randy and I stopped in Le Center. We parked downtown, popped into the thrift store minutes before closing, walked 1 ½ blocks along sidewalks and then looped back through an alley to the van.

 

 

I snapped a few photos. These images offer a glimpse of this community.

 

A front window in Mexican Delights, a downtown restaurant.

 

Diverse.

 

 

Patriotic.

 

Spotted inside a Le Center thrift store.

 

Trusting.

 

 

Lovely in aged buildings.

 

Assorted trucks and other vehicles were parked in a vacant lot and along an alley behind Main Street businesses.

 

You can tell a lot about a town in first impressions. I need to revisit Le Center, though, to uncover more of its personality. Small towns are each individual, as individual as the folks who call these communities home.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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A glimpse of Le Center November 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Driving northeast on Minnesota State Highway 99 toward Le Center.

Driving northeast on Minnesota State Highway 99 toward Le Center.

EVERY TIME I PASS through Le Center, I am in a hurry, on my way to somewhere else with no extra time.

Le Center, population 2,499 (not 2,500), is the county seat of Le Sueur County, a proper noun I find difficult to spell. The county is named after French Explorer Pierre Charles Le Sueur who visited the region in the 1700s while traveling the nearby St. Peter’s River, now known as the Minnesota River.

My view of this southern Minnesota community is usually peripheral, along State Highway 99. Winco on the north with “warehouse space available” bannered on the fence. The new Dollar General to the south. Then, a bit further, the municipal swimming pool, a diner advertising 99-cent burgers, service stations, the Le Sueur County Fairgrounds, the place that makes cheesecake… I always notice the NAPA store painted in the most hideous, yet distinguishable, blue. Off the highway, the grain elevator looms as a backdrop.

Beer Oil & Tire, not to be confuses with a business that sells beer in addition to oil and tires.

Beer Oil & Tire, not to be confused with a business that sells beer in addition to oil and tires.

The last two times I’ve been in Le Center, twice within a week, I convinced my husband to pull off the highway, also labeled as Derrynane. That name puzzles me for its oddity. But I was even more intrigued, entertained actually, by the signage on a local service station: Beer Oil & Tire. I read it as beer, oil and tire. You know how sometimes something strikes you as humorous but the person you are with doesn’t find the humor? I didn’t let that stop me from photographing this service station owned by a Beer.

The Legion does not limit its Steak Fry menu to steak. It also includes walleye, pork chops, shrimp, a full salad bar and kids' menu. The next Steak Fry is from 5 - 8 p.m. on November 28.

The Legion does not limit its Steak Fry menu to steak. It also includes walleye, pork chops, shrimp, a full salad bar and kids’ menu. The next Steak Fry is from 5 – 8 p.m. on November 28.

American Legion Post 108 recognizes the power of promotion by advertising its monthly Steak Fry on a portable sign parked along Minnesota State 99. Driving toward downtown, a sandwich board with the same info was planted smack dab in the middle of the street by the Legion. I still don’t understand the definition of “steak fry.” Are the steaks fried?

Le Center's muni welcomes deer hunters.

Le Center’s muni welcomes deer hunters.

Downtown, Le Center Municipal Liquors currently caters to deer hunters by offering Busch Light bottles for $3 during happy hour. I expect hunters will congregate at the muni with or without beer specials. But welcoming hunters with targeted signage seems a nice, and smart, thing to do.

What's behind buildings can also reveal a lot about a town.

What’s behind buildings can also reveal a lot about a town. This is downtown.

I noted a sign in a storefront window announcing the upcoming opening of a thrift store. That rates a return visit. I love small town thrift shops. Besides, I haven’t explored Le Center enough yet to fully understand its personality. I need to walk and poke around and duck into businesses.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling